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The real differences between American and U.K. Schooling…

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As an American living in England I am often asked about the key differences between American and English culture.

Stepping off the plane and onto a double-decker bus (a bus with two floors..), I’ve seen many differences with spelling, driving, colloquial conversation, currency and of course, weather.

An American tutor teaching in the British education system will encounter quite a lot of differences. Teaching to British children has been a learning experience on its own; I have learned as much from them as they have from me. One of the most important things learned is time and structure: kindergarten versus reception, college versus university; and different calendar years.

But let’s focus solely on details when teaching Math (oh yes, in Britain it’s called Maths), and English.

I do ask my students what some words mean when I can’t figure it out (Americans, do you know what conkers are?! I know now!). The students have a lot of questions of their own. Their favorite question is, which one is better?

Let’s break it down then. Here are the few of many differences between American and British educational teachings:


PEMDAS, parenthesis, zero, trapezoid, exponents, imperial measuring system, Pythagorean Theorem, division, essay, zee, period


BIDMAS/BODMAS, brackets, nought, trapezium, indices, metric measuring system, Pythagoras method, short and long division methods, story/composition, zed, full stop

There are a lot more I can add to this list but I am still learning as I go. Though my American friends used to tell me that I would be fine in England because, hey, they speak English too!- I’m smug as I report back that British culture is as diverse and as varied as American culture.

I teach both ways to the students as I realise they will study a particular method sooner or later. In the U.S., there’s really only one way to teach division. In Britain, Year 1–3 learn short division and progress to learning long division (aka U.S. division). I am pleasantly surprised that the students adapt well to whatever method works for them, as long as they achieve the correct answer.

So in that way, my answer to their question is: both ways are better because in the end, the answer is the same wherever you go.

Annie — Head Tutor BYT High Wycombe

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